Is a home exercise program taught by a physical therapist beneficial for knee OA?

Is a home exercise program taught by a physical therapist beneficial for knee OA?

by Kiki Levesque

Knee osteoarthritis (OA) can lead to decreased functional performance due to the common symptoms of knee pain, stiffness, muscle weakness, and impaired balance. Included in the current best practice for treatment of knee OA includes exercise prescription to increase mobility and physical activity tolerance. Exercise has been shown to decrease pain and improve overall function in patients with knee OA.

A recent randomized controlled trial by Ylmaz et al. compared the effectiveness of a home exercise program (HEP) and a home exercise program taught by a physical therapist in patients with knee OA. One group of patients with knee OA received a HEP in a brochure and the second group received a HEP taught by a physical therapist. Both groups completed the same exercises for 6 weeks. The authors wanted to see if there would be a difference between pain reduction, range of motion, strength, and physical functioning between groups.

Exercises Performed

The following exercises were performed daily for 6 weeks, 2 times per day, for 15 repititions:

  • Isometric contractions of quadriceps, hip adductors, and hip abductors
  • Straight leg raises
  • Hip adductor and abduction
  • Knee flexion and extension
  • Terminal knee extension
  • Knee flexion and extension with 1 kg

Results:

The results of the study found that both groups had improvements in pain, range of motion, muscle strength, and physical functioning following the completion of their HEPs. However, the group who was instructed in their HEP by a physical therapist had statistically significant decreases in pain, increases in knee range of motion, and increased physical functioning when compared to the group who received a HEP through a brochure.

What does this mean for you?

First off performing a HEP is beneficial in both a brochure format and when taught by a physical therapist. However, it is more beneficial for pain and physical functioning when instructed by a physical therapist. This article demonstrates the importance of completing HEPs prescribed by a physical therapist and the benefit of completing exercises at home. If you are having trouble completing your activities of daily living due to knee OA Physical Therapy First can create a personalized exercise program to get you back to your favorite activities.

Ylmaz M, Sahin M, Algun ZC. Comparison of effectiveness of the home exercise program and the home exercise program taught by physiotherapist in knee osteoarthritis. J Back Musculoskelet. 2019;32:161-169.